GMF AeroAsia wants to establish an additional base for heavy maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and is considering proposals from various Indonesian airports.

The MRO company’s president director, Richard Budihadianto, says he is now assessing separate proposals received from authorities in Batam and Bintan, two Indonesian islands off Singapore which are free trade economic zones.

Batam Island has the longest runway in Southeast Asia and it can tap Singapore’s logistics network because the island is only a one-hour ferry ride from Singapore. Getting original equipment manufacturer (OEM) spare parts is easy from Batam, because many OEMs have spare parts warehouses in Singapore.

Budihadianto says Bintan, which is also next to Singapore, is building a new privately-owned airport and the developer has told him it will have a runway capable of handling widebody aircraft.

The GMF head also says he has written to Angkasa Pura II to seek approval to build two hangars at Medan’s new Kuala Namu International Airport. One will be a widebody hangar, capable of handling two Boeing 747s simultaneously, and the other will be a narrowbody hangar capable of handling 10 aircraft simultaneously. Budihadianto was speaking to Aviation Week on May 3 at Kuala Namu International Airport, where he was part of a Garuda Indonesia delegation inspecting the airport.

Medan is well-located in north-western Indonesia, because when GMF’s third-party widebody customers ferry their aircraft to GMF for heavy maintenance checks, their aircraft usually come from the northeast, says Budihadianto.

GMF does third-party widebody aircraft work for European and Middle Eastern carriers. Having a hangar in Medan equipped to do heavy checks means GMF will be geographically closer to customers, reducing the ferry flight time by 2 hr.

Budihadianto says the company has also written to Angkasa Pura I, the operator of Makassar’s Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport, to seek permission to build a narrowbody hangar there. He says GMF is still waiting to hear back, but has also spoken to the Indonesian air force about using its hangar at that airport. GMF’s parent Garuda Indonesia has Bombardier CRJ1000s based at Sultan Hasanuddin airport, and GMF wants to maintain these and other narrowbody aircraft in Makassar.

The problem GMF faces is that its main base at Jakarta Soekarno-Hatta International Airport has become congested. It has, however, started construction of a fourth hangar at Soekarno-Hatta for narrowbody aircraft, and this is due to open mid-2014, says Budihadianto. He adds that an area of land has been set aside for a fifth hangar at the airport.

Other initiatives in the works include efforts to develop more training facilities. Budihadianto says the company has a memorandum of understanding with Airbus regarding the training of maintenance engineers. He says GMF is hoping Indonesia will be chosen as the location for Airbus’s first maintenance training centre outside of France.

“Hopefully, we will be able to sign something at the Paris air show with regards to this,” Budihadianto says. It is in Airbus’s interests to have such a training centre in Asia, because it would no longer have to pay to fly trainees from this region to Toulouse and accommodate them there, he says.

GMF also has a tie-up with B/E Aerospace, a U.S. maker of aircraft interiors. Budihadianto says GMF is now able to maintain B/E Aerospace interiors on its own. The next stage in the relationship, which the companies are working on, is for GMF to be an approved repair centre of B/E Aerospace products. The third stage is for GMF to be a manufacturer of B/E Aerospace products, Budihadianto adds.